For every action

Posted on February 23, 2014

. . . there is an equal and opposite reaction. —Newton’s Third Law of Motion

I’m waiting for it to come. Because it always comes. My history has proven that.

The depression causes extreme fatigue, somewhat similar to the fatigue I experience with fibromyalgia, but much longer-lasting, going for weeks or even months at its worst. It’s not currently at its worst. I’ve been way, way worse than this. But I’m still sleeping as much as 15 hours a day, when I can sleep and I’m not up with a depression-induced insomnia.

Image: Kaitrosebd-Stock

And so it was that I woke at nearly noon, having missed shul again. But that was kind of okay, because although I posted my “coming out” late on Erev Shabbat, and I knew that most of the people I would see in shul wouldn’t have seen it, or read it, I still harbored this fear that I would walk into shul and get verbally attacked by people hissing, “How could you say that about us?!”

That’s always been my fear: that I would tell the truth, or the truth as I experienced it, without embellishment, without judgement, and it would be followed by retribution.

That’s the reason I kept all of the really personal stuff on my Rivka blog and kept the happy, interesting, writerly stuff here. I figured people wanted happy. And I didn’t want a backlash. But the result is that I split myself as well.

The writer part of me couldn’t also be the publisher part of me because then I’d be labelled “self-published” and in 2003, that was a dirty word. Eleven years later, I’ve built a company with global ties, published five award-winning books, and proven (I think) that I know what I’m doing. I can be both writer and publisher now.

I could admit that I have fibromyalgia, and that it was most likely triggered in 2007 (the same year as my worst depression in years) during the incredibly difficult pregnancy that ended in stillbirth. Physical and emotional trauma is nearly always the trigger for fibromyalgia, though why that is, no one knows quite yet. It’s fantastic that science has now found that it’s caused by a neurovascular disorder in the hands and feet.

I even admitted, albeit offhandedly, to having depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. But reconciling my writer/publisher self with Rivka was harder, because as Rivka, I was completely, brutally truthful. I never named names (and still won’t). I was extremely careful about lashon hara (gossip). I wrote about my experience, my truth, without embellishment, without judgment. And I exposed how things were not working, how congregants were getting marginalized, how I could be in the middle of a crowd of people who had known me for over a decade and still be invisible.

And that is where the fear comes in. Because I’ve had some very positive experiences in shul, and some very negative ones. I wrote each one truthfully, as I experienced it. No holds barred (a wrestling term, even though I hate wrestling). Now that people know who I am, what I’ve experienced, what my experience has been like in my Jewish community, will they be angry that not every experience was positive? That I exposed hurtful words and actions, brought some of the shul’s closet skeletons out into the light, and dared identify them as problems?

What will they do about it? Will they make sure it doesn’t happen again, to anyone else (which is hard work and takes commitment)? Or will they attack me (which is easy and often makes others feel better about themselves, even as their target retreats, broken and bleeding)?

I guess I will find out.


  1. Sheyna Galyan

    So far so good. OTOH, I haven't been back at shul yet. 🙂

  2. Shira Salamone

    Catching flack from your shul-mates is never fun. I hope you don't have too tough a time. Best of luck.

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